Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Promises in law

told by his employer and the owner of the house (Rice) that ‘ this will all be yours one day ’. 2 Due to the non-specificit y of this statement, the House of Lords dismissed Jennings’ suit due to a lack of credible assurance.

However, this argument is flawed. In Section 2.2aii it states: ‘ the Defendant makes an assurance if the Defendant knew that the Claimant held a mistaken belief that the Claimant had an interest in the Defendant’s land and the Defendant unreasonably failed to correct that belief’ . Under this definition, Aparna has undoubtedly made an assurance to Freya, as she reasonably must have known of Freya’s belief ( considering she turned down a place at university and multiple brand deals, which she was previously going to accept), and refused to correct it over 6 years. This is further reinforced by the case of Thorner v Major [2009] : in this case, the claimant had worked on his second cousin’s farm unpaid for a period of 30 years, under the impression that he would inherit the farm. 3 However, when the defendant destroyed his will because of a family dispute, the claimant was left with nothing, causing him to sue. The d efendant’s argument that his assurance to the claimant was vague and not specific enough to constitute an assurance was swiftly rejected by the House of Lords, thereby setting the precedent that non-specificity of an assurance is not a valid defence against estoppel claims. The second element in estoppel cases is reliance . Under section 2.2b ( ‘ A Claimant has relied upon an assurance if the assurance caused the Claimant to act or abstain from acting in a particular manner ’), it is clear that Freya relied upon Aparna’s assurance, as she changed her behaviour in response to this information by declining a place at university and numerous advertising contracts, which she evidently would have otherwise accepted. There is no argument which could reasonably counter this. The third element required for a successful claim is detriment : under section 2.2c ( ‘ detriment includes the expenditure of money ’ ), Freya has certainly suffered from this, since she spent £5000 on the cottage (under the impression that it would become her permanent residence), not to mention the earnings lost by neglecting her Instagram career and university. Moreover, under Section 1.1b, ‘ persons can be prevented from insisting upon their strict legal rights when it is unconscientious for them to do so ’. It is clear from examining the evidence that it would be, by definition, unconscientious for Aparna to repudiate her assurance to Freya, as it would leave Freya with no source of income, residence or higher education, which is highly essential in the competitive job market in 2022. It could be argued that Freya had not, in fact, suffered detriment, as she had been allowed to live rent- free on Aparna’s farm for 7 years, which would have otherwise cost her greatly (the average rent in the UK as of 2021 Q4 was £626, 4 and so the total value of this could be as high as ~£60000 in theory). However, this argument would be invalid, as the fact that Freya had lived on the farm rent-free is completely irrelevant to the success of the case, because the fact remains that Aparna’s false assurance had caused Freya to spend £5000 and indirectly lose far more (graduating from

2 Jennings v Rice [EWCA Civ 159; 2002], 3 Thorner v Major [2009] UKHL 18, 4 Office for National Statistics,


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